Come next May, Level 3 will have a new Chairman to go along with this year's newly minted CEO. Walter Scott will be retiring from the board of directors and his post as its chairman by simply not standing for reelection when the 2014 annual meeting comes around. The new chairman will be the board's resident admiral, James O. Ellis, Jr.
Walter Scott has been one of the primary driving forces behind the company since its days as part of Kiewit, through the glory days of the buildout, the depths of the telecom nuclear winter, and the long consolidation phase. The other original main protagonist, James Crowe, left the company this past spring as Jeff Storey took the reins. The second half of this leadership transition comes at the moment when Level 3 is on the cusp of sustainable positive earnings per share at long last. That isn't exactly the place the company hoped to be at this point back in 1998, but it's definitely a milestone that has been won the hard way.
Meanwhile, the company is ever busy on the balance sheet front. Today they announced their intention to redeem the 6.5% converts due 2016 at the end of the year, a move that had been expected by various analysts. There are $201M or so worth of the bonds outstanding, but since they convert at $18.525 we will most likely see them converted to stock instead of requiring cash. A bit of dilution of course, but also another chunk of cash interest off the books for next year's earnings.
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